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Art addicts: Herb and Dorothy Vogel

When Herb and Dorothy first began to actively, one might say exhaustively or compulsively, collect art it had to meet the following two criteria:

1. It must be affordable.
2. It must fit into their small Manhattan apartment.

Living on Dorothy’s librarian salary alone, the Vogels devoted all of Herb’s income as a postal clerk to collecting art. Their tastes tended to be minimalist because they liked it and it had the added benefit of being unpopular enough at the time to be affordable. They collected so much that it covered literally every available surface on their walls, ceiling and floor. But what is remarkable about their efforts is not that they amassed so much on so little but that they had very good taste. What cramped the Vogels’ walls was a Sol LeWitt which butted up against a Chuck Close which hung beside a Richard Tuttle or two or three.

The release of the documentary HERB AND DOROTHY is well-timed, too, proof that an economic slump doesn’t have to mean visual deprivation. As curators mourn declining sales, the Vogels are inspiration to anyone who loves art and is not a privileged, cynical snoot. Get collecting.

HERB AND DOROTHY is out now from Arthouse films. You can see their collection at the National Gallery of Art.